Faces of Affordable Housing: Chantal Bonbon

Chantal and her dog Suzy enjoy an outing in their Meredith neighborhood.

Chantal, her mother, brother, and his now-wife moved to the Lakes Region from Massachusetts when Chantal was just six years old. The family settled down in a home in Meredith. Over the next eleven years, Chantal attended Inter-Lakes Elementary and High School.

Unfortunately, after finishing her sophomore year, Chantal’s life was flipped upside down when she and her family lost their home to a devastating fire in June of 2011. Within a matter of minutes, everything they owned was gone. The family was forced to move from hotel to hotel until they could find a more permanent residence. Luckily, thanks to the help of the community, Chantal and her family were able to secure housing within a week and moved into an apartment at Harvey Heights, a community owned by Lakes Region Community Developers. “Finding housing in Meredith that was affordable for our single income household was important because my mom didn’t want to have to transfer me to a different school system.”

Chantal, now 28 years old, still lives at Harvey Heights and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. “While we all still live in the same community, we each have our own apartments now, which has been a blessing. Instead of sharing one apartment with three other people, I now get the freedom to have my own personal space with my dog, Suzy.”

When asked what has kept her a Harvey Heights so long, Chantal talked about the affordability, security, and community it provides her as a single adult. She noted that she doesn’t have many options when it comes to housing because of her income level and need to be close to take care of her mother. “I want to stay living in Meredith, but rent is sky high and I can’t afford to buy a home in the area. Affordable housing has allowed me to stay living in the town where I grew up, not be stressed about making ends meet, and allows me to be able to take care of my mother.”

Since 2017, Chantal, with the help of her brother and sister-in-law, have been looking after their mother, who is now homebound due to health issues that have rendered her partially blind. Chantal supports her mother in all aspects of her life, including medication administration, grocery shopping, meal preparation, and other daily living skills.

To say Chantal is a giver would be an understatement. For as long as she can remember, Chantal has always had a passion for helping others. A trait she credits her parents for. “A part of me always had this urge to care for others. Even when obtaining my Liberal Arts degree at Lakes Region Community College, I always found myself choosing electives in Human Services.”

In addition to supporting her mother, Chantal also works part-time as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) for Lakes Region Community Services. “I love my job. As a DSP I get to make a difference by serving and supporting individuals living with developmental disabilities or acquired brain disorders achieve their personal and career goals in the community.” For Chantal, her job is more than just a paycheck. She feels fulfilled by serving others and helping them reach their full potential.

Living in affordable housing has given Chantal the opportunity to continue her passion for serving other and giving back to her community. She recently became a licensed foster parent and had her first placement in November 2020. While it was a learning curve at first, overall it was a great experience for her and the child. Chantal looks forward to her next fostering opportunity.